Fighting IT skills shortage by educating prisoners

by Editor 6/18/2008 3:59:00 PM

Wandsworth prison in London has a new vocational learning academy for the inmates, who will get a chance to acquire some networking skills while in prison. 


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An IT training program was conceived to reduce the IT skills shortage gap and help prisoners learn the skills necessary to perform data cabling and network installation work. The demand for these skills outweighs supply by some 20 percent.


Network management company Cisco believes that one in five jobs in this area go unfilled, which amounts to 61,000 jobs in the UK and almost 600,000 across Europe.

The academy at Wandsworth is the latest project to come out of Cisco’s Networking Academies scheme, which was launched in 1997. Since then, it has expanded into 26 prisons in the UK and more than 10,000 institutions in 167 countries.

The academy is a joint project, delivered by Cisco and the HM Prisons Service. The training course will initially be offered to 12 inmates and last 70 hours and 100 offenders are expected to finish the training course by the end of the year. Once they complete the program, they will be interviewed by BeOnsite, a not-for-profit training company. If the interview is a success, they will get a job once they are released.

“We believe it’s imperative that private and public sectors continue to work together – industry, government and academia – in innovative ways to expand the available skill base to ensure the UK prospers long-term. The Academy at HMP Wandworth will develop real-world, in-demand skills helping to prepare inmates for the workplace and therefore reducing re-offending,” said Scot Gardner, Cisco’s UK public sector director.

Skills minister David Lammy said: "The Academy is a demonstration of the power of partnerships coming together to benefit employers, transform offenders’ lives and make society safer by reducing re-offending. I particularly applaud the plan to use Train to Gain to continue to build skills once offenders have left prison, helping deliver long-term benefits for employers and communities… I would encourage all employers to see the business benefits in linking with prisons to get offenders into training and into work."

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